2019 NBA Draft
BROOKLYN, NY - JUNE 20: A general view of the arena during the 2019 NBA Draft on June 20, 2019 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Michael Lawrence/NBAE via Getty Images

Utah Jazz add scoring, defense and depth with a trio of second-round draft picks

by Aaron Falk

The Utah Jazz entered the second round of Thursday night’s NBA draft with a single pick. They left with a versatile forward who admires P.J. Tucker’s game, a guard who can score from anywhere, and a wing with 3-and-D potential.

Charleston forward Jarrell Brantley (No. 50), Hofstra guard Justin Wright-Foreman (No. 53), and Yale wing Miye Oni (No. 58) each has work to do in his transition to the NBA. But general manager Justin Zanik was certainly pleased with the team’s additions Thursday.

“We’re really excited to have them,” Zanik said. “They fit what we’re looking for in Jazz players, now and going forward.”

• Brantley (6-7, 250 pounds) averaged 19.4 points and 8.4 rebounds per game last season. The forward had generated buzz after a strong showing at the Portsmouth Invitational and had been rising up draft boards in recent days. Brantley has pointed to Draymond Green, PJ Tucker and Marcus Morris as current players he has tried to model his game after.

• Wright-Foreman (6-2, 190 pounds) was a dynamic scorer for Hofstra, who averaged 27.1 points per game last season.

• Oni was the Ivy League’s player of the year in back to back seasons. Last year, his junior campaign, he averaged 17.1 points per game for the Bulldogs. A 6-foot-6 wing with a 6-11 wingspan, Oni shot 37.1 percent from beyond the arc last season on 5.2 attempts per game.

Zanik spoke with reporters at the conclusion of the draft:

What stood out from Jarrell Brantley’s workout here? 

“Great energy on the court. He’s coming from a smaller conference, but you see a guy that can dominate at times. He was the best player for his team, on a pretty good tea. [During his workout in Salt Lake] we got to see how he interacts with teammates. We had a lot of high-level players there and he fit right in. His physical attributes and motor and some developing skills are things we think we can harness.”

What role can Justin Wright-Foreman play?

“He can score at all three levels. He had to have a big load [in college]. As he transitions to the NBA, that’s not the role that’s going to be available to him early. If he can grow into that, great. But he can make shots. He can make open shots. He can create shots for himself. Anytime you can acquire those type of qualities—whether it’s a guard, wing, big— you want to go after them. … Every guy that comes into the league needs to work on things. They’re not fully formed players. It’s a role shift. How do you adapt? His open shot making, and quickness. He’s very secure with the ball in his hands. However Coach wants to use him, that’s a good start.” 

What stood out about Miye Oni when you watched him and interviewed him at the NBA Combine? 

“What we like is his defensive ability, even though he was a main scorer at Yale. His open shooting making, being able to contest shots and use his length. I think he can develop. A defender at first and an open shot maker as he develops.”

All three of these players come from smaller conferences. Does that matter? 

“Whenever you move up a level, there’s always a transition. If you work hard and you have a skillset, you have a game that translates, we have a coaching staff that can develop you. … There’s a saying that if you play in college and you’re good enough, the NBA will find you. These guys were all known commodities. They’ve all had successful careers. It wasn’t something that they just came onto the radar. Maybe on a public level or media level. But from a scouting level, we’ve known about these guys for a while.”

All three of these players had multiple years of college experience. How important was that for you?

“It wasn’t that these guys had to play four years in college. It was more that their games became more mature, so we saw that each one of them had—while all needing developing in their transition to the NBA—these skillsets that we saw that could translate. Now, how much? How long? There’s a chance that we can have a lot of roster flexibility going forward and we will continue to be aggressive in free agency with that coming up. But these guys give us a chance to develop. Hopefully they’ll all play in summer league and be with our program going forward.”

How do you see these players fitting into the roster?

“With our roster—and we’ll continue to be aggressive—it’s open. There’s a chance that we open a lot of roster spots. What we tell our guys is come in, compete, and we’ll have a developmental path for you. That could be a number of ways. That could be on the roster, the G-League, two-way contracts. Any of those things are on the table. Let’s get you in here, let’s get our coaching staff around you, have a good summer and play and we’ll work with them to figure out the best development path.”

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